Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Farzad Kamangar

About

Age: 35
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Unknown
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Execution: May 9, 2010
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Iran
Mode of Execution: Hanging
Charges: War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam; Sympathizing with anti-regime guerilla groups

Human rights violations in this case

The Legal Context

The Courts

 

Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 11 February 1979-1994

 

In the immediate aftermath of the 11 February 1979 Revolution, an ad hoc tribunal, initially referred to as the Extraordinary Revolutionary Tribunal, was set up to try the officials of the previous regime, for which no specific procedures were devised. In a decree dated 24 February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolutionary religious leader, appointed a cleric as Shari’a Judge and instructed him “to issue Shari’a-based rulings,” thereby establishing the foundation of a system of special courts.

 

Initially, the revolutionary courts’ jurisdiction was determined by the religious judge’s interpretation of the Shari’a (Islamic law based on the teachings of the Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet, the 12 imams, and the teachings of Shi’a scholars. On 17 June 1979, the Revolutionary Courts and the Prosecutor’s Office Rules of Procedure, which was only selectively observed, established the latter’s jurisdiction and make-up.

 

The Courts’ jurisdiction encompassed a wide array of offenses including moharebeh (“waging war with God”), efsad e fel arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”), crimes against national and international security, economic crimes, murder, profiteering, prostitution, rape, and narcotic drugs-related crimes. The law required that two of the three principal members of the Revolutionary Courts be Shari’a judges.

 

 

Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 1994-2002

 

With the adoption of the Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 14 June 1994, and the Code of Criminal Procedure for General and Revolutionary Courts of 19 September 1999, a uniform code of procedure was applied to both revolutionary and general courts. The jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts was limited to 6 categories of offenses:

1. Crimes against national and international security,“moharebeh” (enmity with god) and “efsad e fel arz” (corruption on earth;)

2. defaming Ayatollah Khomeini and the Supreme Leader;

3. plotting against the Islamic Republic of Iran, armed action, terrorism, and sabotage;

4. espionage;

5. smuggling and drug-related crimes; 6. claims under Principle 49 (economic crimes) of the Constitution.

 

These courts continued, however, to try cases falling outside their jurisdiction, such as theft and sexual offenses. Further, the vagueness of laws regarding national security allowed the revolutionary courts to try political and media crimes whenever they wished to do so.

 

The new law eliminated the Prosecutor’s Office and gave the judges inthe Revolutionary Courts the power to perform the duties of the prosecutor, as well as their own, in any case brought before them.

 

Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 2002-Present

 

The Amended Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 2002 reinstated the Prosecutor’s Office in both revolutionary and general courts. In cases involving political and media crimes, revolutionary courts’ jurisdiction overlaps with that of Province Criminal Courts.

 

The Appellate System of Revolutionary Courts, 1979-Present

 

From their inception until 1994, the rulings of the Revolutionary Courts were not subject to appeal. In the early 1980s a court entitled the Supreme Court of Qom was established in the city of Qom and which reviewed cases of execution and confiscation of properties, thereby forming a first tier form of appeal. The exact date of the creation of the court is not clear, but, based on available information, the court became operational in the early 1980s, even though Ayatollah Khomeini's official order for its creation is dated 1985. The court’s procedure was not systematic and did not meet the international standards for a court of appeals; there was no official record of its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of Qom was dissolved in 1989.

 

The Law of 14 June 1994 subjected the Courts’ decisions to appeal. An appellate court was established at each provincial capital, called the Province Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, to review decisions made by the Revolutionary Courts. The Supreme Court was designated as the appellate authority for particular decisions, including those involving capital punishment.

 

Narcotic drugs-related crimes constitute a significant exception to the appeals process. Governed by the Anti-Narcotic Drugs Law of 1988, as Amended on 8 November 1997 and 31 July 3 2010, these crimes are within the jurisdiction of, and are adjudicated on a regular basis by, Revolutionary Courts whose decisions are final. After being handed down by the judge, death sentences are sent to the Prosecutor General or the Head of the Supreme Court as a matter of administrative approval.

 

General Courts, 1979-1982

 

In cases not falling under the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts, the system devised under the previous regime continued to function in parallel with new systems devised by laws passed by the Judicial Council, one of which, entitled The Legal Bill for the Establishment of General Courts of 11 September 1979, radically changed the entire structure and categorization of the courts. It divided the courts in three branches: Criminal, Civil, and Peace (a sort of arbitration court dealing with minor financial and other disputes). Specialized courts such as family courts were eliminated.

 

General Courts, 1982-1994

 

The Law of the Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure of 1982 established a new criminal courts system, Criminal Courts I and II. Criminal Court I, established only in provincial capitals, had jurisdiction over more serious offenses, including those punishable by death, and Criminal Court II heard less serious crimes.

 

General Courts, 1994-2002

 

The Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 14 June 1994 established umbrella courts called General Courts, which replaced and dissolved pre-existing civil and criminal courts. The law dissolved the Prosecutor’s offices and tasked a single person with the roles of judge, prosecutor, and investigator.

 

General Courts, 2002-Present

 

In 2002, the 1994 Law was amended, reviving the role of the Prosecutor’s Office in General Courts. The prosecution offices were re-established in a gradual process over several years. The amended law also re-established specialized branches within general courts dealing separately with criminal and civil matters. In addition, this law allocated a number of branches of the Province Court of Appeals to have original jurisdiction over a number of cases including the most serious offenses, as well as political and media crimes. In these cases, the branches are called the Province Criminal Court.

 

The Appellate System of General Courts, 1979-Present

 

The Legal Bill for the Establishment of General Courts of 11 September 1979, abolished appeal of most criminal courts’ decisions. The law of 1982 restricted the appeal possibility even further. According to the Islamic Republic authorities’ interpretation of Islamic Law, a qualified jurist’s decisions were not subject to appeal except under special circumstances, such as when the judge realized his own mistake, or another judge advised him so, or when he did not have jurisdiction over the case. Even in such situations, the case would not go to a higher court but would be subject to review by the same judge or another judge at his level. The judges were even urged to call their verdicts “opinions,” so that the possible change in the verdict would not be “haram” (“sinful,” the highest level of prohibition in Islam, disobedience of which would result in a sin).

 

In October 1988, the Majles (Iranian parliament) passed a law regarding review of court judgments. This law provided for an appeal if the conviction was claimed to be based on invalid documentation or false testimony. The defendant could also base an appeal on a point of law or a procedural violation.

 

The appellate system was expanded in other laws in the late 1980s and in 1993. The Law for the Establishment of Criminal Courts I and II of 11 July 1989 created the Branches of the Supreme Court. Crimes of less importance, tried in Criminal Court II, were subject to review by Criminal Court I.

 

For the most important crimes involving death punishment, which were under the jurisdiction of Criminal Court I, the law allowed limited appeal to the Branches of the Supreme Court. Defendants had the right to petition the Supreme Court for appeal in certain cases involving false testimony or procedural violations, and if granted, the case would be remanded to either another criminal court or the original one.

 

Finally, the Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 1994, as amended in 2002, established an appellate court at each provincial capital, called Province Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, to review decisions made by both general and revolutionary courts. The Supreme Court was designated as the appellate authority for particular decisions, including those carrying the death penalty, as well as decisions made by the Province Criminal Court.

 

Current laws, which were last amended in 2002, reflect and continue the appellate procedure to the Branches of the Supreme Court established by the afore-mentioned law of 11 July 1989

 

Special Courts for the Clergy

 

These courts are rooted in a 1979 decree, issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, which established a committee of religious and noble figures in every region to purge the clergy of anti-revolutionary elements under the supervision of the Revolutionary Courts. Between late 1981 and 1984, a special court in the city of Qom handled, though not systematically, the trial of clerics.

 

On 29 July 1987, Ayatollah Khomeini officially appointed a prosecutor and a member of the clergy as Shari’a judge for Special Courts for the Clergy. On 6 August 1990, a directive was issued regulating the conduct of these courts, the jurisdictional ambiguity of which is such that it effectively extends to “anyone where one of the parties is a cleric” and to “all matters in which the Court is designated as competent by the Supreme Leader.”

 

The court was mandated to try “pseudo clerics, those related to/connected with the clergy, for public and/or anti-revolutionary crimes, and violations of the prestige of the clergy,” and where the principal suspect is a member of the clergy, “any co-conspirator or assistant, whether a cleric or not.”

 

These courts are generally not open to the public and can issue sentences for all acts and omissions punishable under codified Iranian laws or Shari’a or for any other acts or omissions which can bring dishonor to the clergy or to the Islamic Revolution. Further, in certain particular cases – which have not been defined – where no punishment has been devised by either the Penal Code or even the Shari’a, the Court “can rule as it deems fit.”

 

The Appellate System of the Special Court for the Clergy, 1979-Present

 

There is no information on any appeal process for the Special Court for the Clergy prior to the 1990 directive. Article 49 of said directive set up, however, an appeals court called Special Appellate Court for the Clergy, the head of which is appointed by the Supreme Leader, to which the decisions of the lower court can be appealed.

 

Military Courts

 

The military court system, independent from the judiciary under the previous regime, became a part of it on 1 December 1981. The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces, established in 1986, replaced and merged other military courts and tribunals in existence at the time, namely the pre-revolution Judiciary Organization of the Army, the Revolutionary Tribunal of the Army (established on 8 December 1979), and the Revolutionary and General Court for the Revolutionary Guards (established on 15 July 1979.) The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces has its own Criminal Code and follows the country’s general rules of criminal procedure.

 

The Law of the Criminal Procedure of the Armed Forces of 15 May 1985 created Military Courts I and II. Military Court I has jurisdiction over more serious offenses, including those punishable by death, and Military Court II hears less serious crimes.

 

The Appellate System of Military Courts, 1979-Present

 

The law of 8 December 1979, establishing the Revolutionary Military Court, did not provide for any appeals. The Law of 15 May 1985 created a system of appeals through the creation of a two-tier system of courts. The decisions of Military Court II were subject to review by Military Court I. This law also provided that multiple Branches of the Supreme Court be designated as the appellate court to review decisions of Military Court I.

 

The judges

 

1979-1997: Prosecutors and judges are not necessarily law graduates and jurists. Shortly after the Islamic Revolution, a five-member Committee was established to purge the judicial system of undesirable elements, pursuant to the Legal Bill for the Modification of the Judiciary and the Law for Hiring Judges of 8 March 1979. The power of the committee was absolute and its decisions, resulting in a widespread purge of the judiciary, final.

 

The Law for the Conditions of Selection of Judges of 4 May 1981 established the conditions of eligibility for judges. The latter were to be hired among men who were legitimate children and had practical commitment to Islam and allegiance to the Islamic Republic. The law, which led to the hiring of clerics and Islamic legal scholars, also allowed hiring practically anyone as a judge who could “obtain the Judicial High Council’s permission.” Moreover, Note 2 of the Amendments of 4 October 1982 to this law allowed widespread employment of seminary students “who ha[d] general knowledge equivalent to a high school diploma” as judges at prosecutor’s offices in general as well as Revolutionary Courts.  

 

By 1989, the judiciary counted about 2,000 new judges trained in theological seminaries (graduates and students) and political appointees, many having replaced judges trained in law schools.

 

1997-Present: As of this writing (2013) the Law for Hiring Judges and its amendments of 4 October 1982, 7 February 1987, and 9 May 1988 are in full force and form the basis for hiring judges. The Executive Rules of Procedure of 22 December 1997 subjected such hiring to passing an entrance examination and successful completion of an apprenticeship program, the duration of which ranges between one and two years. The law does not limit hiring to men only but does not specify in what capacity women will be functioning, other than an advisory one.

 

Dismissal of Judges: From 1979 to 1989, the judiciary was run by the Supreme Judicial Council which was composed of the head of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General (both of whom were appointed by the Supreme Leader), and three judges elected by the entire body of judges in the country. The Council had the power to hire and dismiss judges in accordance with the law.

 

The constitutional reforms of 1989 substituted the Supreme Judicial Council with one person, the Head of the Judiciary. The Supreme Leader, whose mandate is not subject to popular vote, appoints the Head of the Judiciary for a 5-year term. The latter has significant power to influence the dismissal of judges. Dismissal cases are referred to three types of disciplinary courts, presided over by judges appointed by the Head of the Judiciary, who has veto power over any decisions made by the relevant courts.

 

Two of these courts, established in 1991 and 2011, are charged with examining the judges’ conduct from a religious and ideological standpoint. The process does not necessarily involve the defendant and the final decision, left to the Head of the Judiciary, is not subject to appeal.

 

Human rights violations

Based on the available information, the following human rights have been violated in this case:

  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.

    UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2; Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.

    In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

  • The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

    UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.1 and ICCPR, Article 19.2.

The right to due process

Pre-trial detention rights

  • The right to know promptly and in detail the nature and cause of the charges against one.

    UDHR, Article 9(2); ICCPR, Article 9.2 and Article 14.3.a

  • The right to counsel of one’s own choosing or legal aid and the right to meet with one’s attorney in confidence

    ICCPR, Article 14.3.d; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1 , Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, and Article 8.

  • The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense case.

    ICCPR, Article 14.3.b; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 8%viol_bprl_8%..

  • The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    UDHR, Article 5; ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1, and Article 2.

Trial rights

    • The right to a fair and public trial without undue delay.

      ICCPR, Article 9.3, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

    • The right to examine, or have examined the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of defense witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses for the prosecution.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

    ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

  • The right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

    ICCPR, Article 14.5.

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

    ICCPR, Article 6.4.

Capital punishment

  • The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.

About this Case

Twelve years he taught in Kamyaran and was a member of bio-ecological and educational bodies.  He wrote, with eloquence, of pluralism in society and the basic rights of citizens.

News of the execution of Mr. Farzad Kamangar, son of Baqi, and four others was announced by the public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts. Information regarding Mr Kamangar's arrest and sentence was posted on several news websites, including Human Rights Activists in Iran (13 March), Amir Kabir Newsletter (26 February) 2008, Human Rights Watch of Kurdistan (11, 19 October) 2008; and Haft-e Tir website (22 July) 2008, Amnesty International (12 January), ISNA news agency (29 April), Green Movement (10 and 20 May), Committee of Human Rights Reporters (9 May and 6 June), Campaign for the Release of Farzad Kamangar (2 and 10 May), Fars news agency (17 May), Radio Farda (26 May), Harana (1 and 11 June), 2010. Additional information has been taken from the testimony of Sabah Nasri, a former cellmate of Mr Kamanger, in an interview with Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (22 February 2011). Among the main sources used to put together Kamangar's story have been two of his letters: one, dated 23 November 2007, was related to his arrest and interrogation, and the other, dated 4 February 2010, was addressed to the head of the Judiciary. The two letters were sent from Evin Prison and published by Harana (the website of Human Rights Activists in Iran).

In his first letter from prison, Mr Kamangar introduced himself as follows: “I, Farzad Kamangar, known as Siamand, have worked as a teacher in the town of Kamyaran [in the Iranian province of Kurdistan] for 12 years. A year before my arrest [July 2006], I started teaching at the Kar-o-Danesh Vocational High School. I was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Kamyaran branch of the Teachers’ Union and in charge of its public relations before it was banned by the authorities. In addition, I was a member of the editorial board of “Ruyan,” a cultural-educational monthly published by the Education Department in Kamyaran (this publication was eventually banned by “Herasat” [the intelligence and security organization monitoring public offices]). For a while, I was a member of the board directors of the Bio-Ecological Society of Kamyaran (Ausk), and when the [Kurdistan] Human Rights Organization started its activities in 2005, I signed up to be a reporter for this organization.”

Farzad Kamangar believed in peaceful civil resistance as a means of eliminating discrimination based on belief. He shunned violence. Farzad loved Kurdistan and deemed the intensity of state violence against the Kurdish minority in Iran as not only an act of oppression but also a political mistake. His perspective on tribal and ethnic minorities was this: "The presence of tribal and ethnic minorities in Iran and the rest of the world is not a new phenomenon. Ethnic, cultural and tribal pluralism in a society could act as a double-edged sword for that society. It means that in a situation where a society is developed and where relationships are based on fairness and equality, co-existence of various tribes and ethnic groups does not lead to any problems; moreover, it could actually be conducive to enriching that society culturally by raising the level of tolerance, on the one hand, and reducing cultural prejudices and individual bigotries, on the other. Today, particularly in the era of globalization, the tedious shadow of cultural monotony poses a threat to many societies. The existence of this cultural pluralism and diversity is a gift that should be cherished. At the same time, in a situation where the leaders of a society fail to pay sufficient attention to the needs and legitimate rights of its minorities, troublesome repercussions are inevitable. Perhaps one of the basic rights that every Iranian, Kurdish or otherwise, feels entitled to is the right to 'citizenship'; a right that stands against seclusion and exclusion. Seclusion and exclusion are two sentiments formed from the influence of objective circumstances, or in other words, the tangible and day to day realities of life, such as poverty as seen in the fading light in a starving child’s eyes, the shame of a father whose pockets are empty, who hence cannot provide food on the table for his family, or the pale cheeks and poverty-stricken countenance of a mother.  (Farzad Kamangar: We Are All People, dated 10 April 2010)

In joining the Human Rights Activists in Iran, which seeks to champion human rights and eliminate religious, ethnic and gender discriminations, Farzad Kamangar had chosen the path of non-violent civil resistance. Mr Kamangar is described as charismatic and kind by those who knew him. Describing Farzad Kamangar, one of his cellmates noted “He had a unique softness in his emotions and his writings. He was one of those loveable myths. Someone who liked to help those who were deprived from education; those who could build the future of this region [Kurdistan] of the country.” (Interview with IHRDC)

In the final days of his life, Farzad Kamangar wrote a letter entitled "Be Strong Comrade." The letter, dated April 2010, was addressed to imprisoned teachers, and was published by Harana. In the letter, he approved of the teachers' struggle for freedom. Addressing his colleagues, he wrote: "I know that one day this hard and bumpy road will be paved and its hardships and sufferings will become a badge of honor for you 'freedom-seeking teachers'. And everyone will know that a teacher is a teacher, even if his path is blocked by the selection process, imprisonment and execution. The teacher has been awarded his name and honor by his little fish and not by herons."

Arrest and detention

The public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts announced: "The search squad of Police Precinct 116 of Molavi [a street of Tehran] grew suspicious of two individuals standing next to a Paykan [Iranian-manufactured car], during their patrol on 19 August 2006. On spotting the police officers, the two individuals fled the scene. One of them, called Peyman, whose real name was later found to be Kaveh, was arrested, while the other, named Kamal, escaped. After searching the vehicle, the officers found five kilograms of explosives planted under the driver's seat. The officers went to the two individuals' residence, arresting Farzad Kamangar .

In a letter, dated 23 November 2007, Farzad Kamangar gave the following account of his arrest and detention in Tehran:

“... In July 2006, I came to Tehran to follow up on my brother's medical treatments. My brother is a Kurdish political activist. I was arrested and immediately transferred to an unknown location. It was a dark and narrow basement with no ventilators; the cells were completely empty, no beds, no carpets, no blankets, nothing. The place was extremely dark. Then they took me to another room. As they were writing down my information, they would ask about my ethnicity, and when I said I was Kurdish, they would flog me all over my body with a hose-like device. They also subjected me to foul language, insults, and beatings because of my religious beliefs [Sunni Islam as distinguished from Shi’a Islam which is the State official religion]. They flogged me to a pulp because of the Kurdish ring tone I had on my mobile phone. They would handcuff me and tie me to a chair and put pressure on my sensitive spots … and they would strip me naked and harass me with a baton or a stick, threatening to violate me sexually... ”

“...My left foot was severely injured during the time I spent in this place. Also, I fell unconscious as a result of being repeatedly hit in the head and subjected to electric shocks, and when I regained consciousness, I had lost my sense of balance, and I still get sudden uncontrollable shivers in my body as a result. They would chain my feet and apply shock to different sensitive spots of my body... The pain resulting from these shocks was extreme and horrifying. Later, I was transferred to ward 209 [in Tehran’s Evin Prison]. I was immediately blindfolded and taken to a small room …, I was subjected to assault and battery (punching and kicking). The next day I was transferred to Sanandaj [in Iranian Kurdistan], where they were planning to arrest my brother. From the second I entered the detention center in Sanandaj, I faced insults and verbal abuse and battery. They tied me to a chair in the medical clinic there and left me that way until 7 a.m. the next day… I was not even allowed to use the toilet. After much more harassment, they transferred me back to detention ward 209 [Evin Prison]. I was interrogated, harassed, and beaten…”

After being transferred back to Evin, Mr Kamangar continued to be subjected to intense interrogations and torture. Consequently, he went on a 33-day hunger strike in protest at the behavior of prison officials. Moreover, in protest at the pressure exerted on his family members, on one occasion he attempted suicide. In late December 2006, Mr Kamangar was transferred to the detention center of Kermanshah's intelligence department, in Naft Square, where he was again subjected to extreme torture. He gave details of the torture in a letter, dated 23 November 2007, entitled: "To Torture a Prisoner is to Torture Humanity." One of the torture methods he highlighted in his letter was called a Soccer Game. “‘Soccer Game’ was the expression used by the interrogators. They would strip me naked, and then four or five them would stand around and ‘pass’ me to each other by kicking and punching me. If I fell down, they would laugh and subject me to verbal and physical abuses. They would keep me standing on one leg for hours. I had to hold my arms up and they would beat me every time I got tired.” The aim of the torture was to coerce Mr Kamangar into confessing to crimes he had not committed.

On 18 March 2007, Mr Kamangar was again taken back to Evin Prison in Tehran. He was under interrogation in Evin until September 2007, when he was moved to Sanandaj Prison. The interrogations and torture continued in Sanandaj Prison. Mr Kamangar has again highlighted some of the torture he was subjected to in that prison in one of his letters. "The infamous 'chicken kebab' term was used by the head warden in Sanandaj to describe one of his torture techniques, which he administered in most of the evenings when he was on duty. It involved trussing up the prisoner, with his arms and legs securely tied, and then whipping him..."

After two months in solitary confinement in Sanandaj, Kamangar was again taken back to Tehran, where he was put in solitary confinement at Evin Prison. He was transferred to Raja'i Shahr Prison, on 18 November.

Dr. Kamiar Alaei, his cellmate, who is also a medical doctor, reported his observations: “In Kermanshah Dizelabab Prison, they had beaten him a lot. … They had broken his jaw and all his upper teeth were smashed. They had given him electrical shock and he would jump up a meter if anyone got close to him and touched his side.”

Trial

The cases of Farzad Kamangar and two other defendants were heard at Branch 30 of Tehran's Revolution Court, on 30 January 2008. According to human rights organizations in Iran, the trial and sentencing of Kamangar and two other defendants took seven minutes.

Farzad Kamangar had also mentioned the trial in his letter: "In the seven-minute hearing at Branch 30 of Tehran's Revolution Court, I was stunned to hear the judge say:  ‘The Intelligence Ministry has called for your execution. You should go and appease them.’" (Letter addressed to the head of the Judiciary, dated 4 February 2010).

Charges

In his letter, dated 23 November 2007, Mr Kamangar wrote that up to August 2007, a year and a half following his arrest and interrogation, he had not been formally charged. "They had no charges against me, neither in Kermanshah nor in Sanandaj."

Mr Farzad Kamangar and two other defendants, all of whom were executed at the same time, were charged with "moharebeh [waging war against God] through active operations for mini groups opposed to the regime, as well as possession and smuggling of weapons and ammunition." According to Mr. Kamangar himself and the people who were arrested with him, he was charged with having a connection with P.K.K.

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) was established in 1974 by Abdullah Ocalan. It was officially named P.K.K. in 1978. This party is in armed struggle with Turkey Government since 1984. Its ideology is a mixture of socialism and Kurd nationalism. This party is recognized by many countries as a terrorist group. They aimed to establish an independent Kurdistan in the south of Turkey, north of Iraq and parts of Iran. In 1999, Abdullah Ocalan was arrested in Kenya and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2000, the party declared that the party would only use political means. In its 8th congress in 2002, the party officially renounced its armed means and changed its name to Kurdistan Liberty and Democracy Congress (KADEK). In 2003, the party changed its name again to Kongra-Gel (KGK). It confirmed its peacefull intentions but continued its armed struggles in the context of self-defense. In June 2003, the People’s Defense Force (HPG) which has taken over the party since February 2003, renounced the 5-year cease fire with the government of Turkey.

Under circumstances in which not even the most basic trial guarantees are observed and defendants are deprived of a fair trial, the veracity of the charges leveled against them is not absolute or indubitable. International human rights organizations have highlighted evidence to demonstrate that the Islamic Republic's authorities level false charges, such as drugs smuggling, or perpetration of public and sexual crimes, against their political opponents and execute them with non-political death row prisoners. Every year, hundreds of individuals are convicted of crimes against the public. There is no clear data on the number of individuals executed on such trumped up charges.

Evidence of guilt

The public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts claimed to have the following evidence against Farzad Kamangar and two other defendants: "A total of 10 kilograms of explosives were found on the defendants at the time of arrest, and another 12 kilograms [of explosives] as well as 15 detonators and two grenades were discovered in the home of Farhad Vakili. Also found in the homes of the defendants were 57 RPG bullets, 600 light arms' cartridges, 700 Persian translations of a book by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, 300 posters of the mini group's leaders, and 300 propaganda pamphlets and literature."

Defense

There is no precise information available concerning Mr Kamangar's defense in the seven-minute court hearing. However, in his letter of 4 February 2010, he has rejected all the charges against him and described his trial as unjust.

"Your Excellency Ayatollah Larijani

...

3) Before the trial, I was found innocent of all the charges. Yet this time, in the aforementioned hearing I was sentenced to death on the new charge of membership of PJAK. Sadly, the said charge has been upheld by the Supreme Court without attention to the blatant and strong presence in the case file of various breaches of the Code of Criminal Procedure...

4) After some time, as a result of popular protests in August 2008 against my sentence, I was again returned to Ward 209 [Evin Prison] in Tehran, where I was interrogated for another five months. Astonishingly, the general attitude of the Intelligence Ministry interrogators and experts appeared to be in total contrast to the previous times. Despite the fact that, thanks to the existence of a great deal of evidence and testimony, it had become clear to the experts dealing with my case that I had never been a member of any [political] parties or organizations, they told me that in view of the new circumstances that had emerged in relation to the case, “You must urge your family members, friends, and colleagues not to allow themselves to be exploited in any way because, basically, you have not been a member of any party or organization, hence no-one should jump on the political bandwagon by usurping your case and taking advantage of it to serve their own ends.”

Your Excellency Mr Larijani! I consider myself an innocent individual, and hence cannot accept the charges that have been leveled against me. These charges are totally imaginary and fabricated to such an extent that even my aforementioned interrogator in Ward 209 expressed regret for the torture I was subjected to in Sanandaj and Kermanshah, describing such conduct as arbitrary and in blatant breach of the law. Moreover, he believed it to be my absolute right to pursue the matter. They even agreed to use every legal means to deal with my case as per Article 18 [of the Code of Criminal Procedure]. However, after some 18 months, not only I have failed to receive a response - notwithstanding attempts by honorable Majles deputies to pursue the matter – I have been astonished to find that there is no trace of my case file in any sections of the Judiciary.

Your Excellency Mr Larijani! I have a few questions to ask you in your capacity as the head of the Judiciary of the Islamic government, which I hope you will find the time in your busy schedule to at least respond to me: 1) In your opinion, would a court, which after my 19 months in detention, lasted six or seven minutes in total, including the reading of the indictment and my defense statement during which I was not even allowed to consult my lawyer, be able to issue a just verdict? Did the judge even have time to read my file? Not to mention the fact that for a few minutes after the hearing, the judge accused me of cooperating with Farzad Kamangar (i.e. myself!!)

2) Fifteen months prior to the hearing, and in subsequent phases, Intelligence Ministry experts told me that my death sentence had served to send a clear signal to political activists and other people to stay away from Kurdish parties, while at the same time it had demonstrated [Iran's] good intention to its neighboring countries!! Should my rights as a citizen of the Islamic Republic of Iran not protect me from being used as a scapegoat by my country for the purpose of normalization of relations with its neighbors?

3) The honorable spokesman of the Judiciary, Mr Jamshidi, had in an interview, on 14 July 2008, cleared me of all previous charges, yet instead announced that I was charged with membership of an organization – a charge which I do not accept. But why is it that no instructions have been given for my case to be processed?

4) Why have security organs stated that in view of the extensive media and social coverage given to my case they fear that any u-turns on my case, the charges, or issued verdicts could further embolden human rights and civil organs, as well as non-conformist political parties - who had already adopted a stance by condemning my illegal sentence? Is it so bitter and unpleasant to acknowledge a mistake and learn lessons from the past, as has been emphasized in Islamic teachings, that they should avoid [such acknowledgement] by resorting to various pretexts?

5) Bearing in mind what has happened do you not deem the entire affair as being in contravention and breach of the Principle of Separation of Powers? If not, why is it that the judges, as independent entities, cannot administer justice and instead consider themselves duty-bound to abide by the unofficial recommendations of security organs?

6) In consideration of the above points, do I, as an Iranian national with the basic rights of a citizen of the Islamic Republic, have the right to a new trial in an impartial court based on the official and codified laws of the Islamic Republic and without any political bias and undue expediencies?

Your Excellency Mr Larijani! In view of the aforementioned instances pointing to blatant and strong breaches of the Code of Criminal Procedure in respect of my case, I have already exercised my right to lodge an appeal for the implementation of Article 18, which is one of your honor's special discretionary powers. Moreover, I had lodged that appeal when this legal article was still valid and had not yet been rescinded. So I hereby once again formally urge your honor to deal with my appeal, if it has already not been dealt with. And I would be grateful if you would also ask them to announce the outcome so that after enduring years of mental torment I may be able to resume normal life."

In an interview on the Campaign for the Release of Farzad Kamangar website, his brother Mehrdad Kamangar said: "They [judicial authorities] had given him [Farzad Kamangar] their word. I was present at the time. The official in charge of the case said that Farzad had not committed any crimes and must be freed. The Tehran prosecutor had told [this to] Mr Bahramian [Farzad's lawyer], Farzad and myself." Concerning the charge against his brother of links with PJAK, he said: "As a person who is the closest to Farzad, and as he himself has declared so many times, I assert that he has had no links with any political organizations. All this is a set up. Their sole intention is to persecute Kurdish civil activists."

In connection with the charge of cooperation with PJAK, one of Farzad Kamangar's lawyers, Khalil Bahramian, told Radio Farda a day after his execution: "No way! No way! No way! There is no evidence of that. Even the interrogating agent, in other words the Intelligence Ministry agent, told me and Farzad as we were sitting in the cell that their investigations had shown that Farzad was not involved in any of these schemes."

In the words of Joe Stork, of the Middle East Division of Human Rights Watch, the case of Farzad Kamangar is indicative of how human rights violations in Iran have become a matter of routine. Kamangar was tortured, subjected to an unfair trial, and is now facing the death penalty. According to Kamangar's lawyer, the trial violated Iran's legal requirements, which, for such cases, warrant an open hearing in the presence of a jury.

Judgment

The court sentenced Mr Farzad Kamangar to death. The sentence was upheld by the State Supreme Court. He was hanged in Evin Prison, on 9 May 2010, without the knowledge of his family or lawyers. He was secretly buried in an unidentified location.

Farzad Kamangar's lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, described the enforcement of the sentence as illegal. Speaking to Radio Farda, he said that he had received a phone call at 10 o'clock that morning. He subsequently approached various authorities but to no avail. Finally, he went to the office of the State Prosecutor General to inquire about the appeal. He was told that the case file had not yet reached them. "The sentence should not have been carried out because the case was yet to be dealt with and the verdict was yet to be either upheld or thrown out [at the appeal stage]. That was the defendant's legal right."

Families of prisoners executed at the same time as Mr Kamanger came to Tehran from Kurdistan to protest the execution of their loved ones, who were put to death without the knowledge of their lawyers and families. They described the executions as illegal and in contravention of the most basic human rights. Farzad Kamangar's brother said that if the country had any laws, Farzad, who was a teacher, should have been freed, not executed. The families met with the governor-general of Kurdistan on 2 June 2010. They asked him for the bodies of their loved ones. The governor-general of Kurdistan responded by saying: "Those executed have been buried in a location which, for security reasons, we are not at liberty to disclose. The authorities will inform you of the location once some time has passed and the circumstances are right." In the wake of that meeting, security and intelligence forces contacted the victims' families threatening them with arrest should they embark on more such meetings.

Farzad Kamangar's mother has said: "I decided to respect my son's will and testament and bury him in his father's village, so I went to collect his body. But, unfortunately, all our efforts in the several days we spent in Tehran were to no avail. Neither Majles deputies nor judiciary officials gave us any proper answers. They all said that if they gave us [the families of victims] the bodies, there would be a rebellion in Kurdistan. After we returned from Tehran, they said that we had been contacted by the Intelligence [Ministry] to say that we must not hold a funeral ceremony in a mosque. They only allowed us to hold a ceremony in our home. Forty days after his death, I went to the office of the governor-general of Kurdistan and asked them to promise to show me my son's grave. The governor-general again gave me a negative response. He said: “If we show you his grave, it will turn into a site for demonstrations." (Harana, the website of Human Rights Activists in Iran)

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